You remember the discussions the banking industry wrestled with back when social media started hitting everyone’s radar. Do we need a Twitter account or Facebook page? The answer for most was “yes,” but that posed more questions — How should we use social media channels? And what for? Immediately thereafter, compliance started to chime in — Hold on, you can’t say that! It may seem hard to believe, but nearly ten years have passed since financial institutions began adopting “Web 2.0” tools like blogs and Twitter. These days, it seems everyone has relaxed and settled in, agreeing that social media is appropriate, relevant and has a role.
But questions still persist — What next? Where do we go from here?
1. Lead Generation
Your social posts can generate leads by linking to a landing page with a web form, allowing the user to request more information. For example, run a few teaser posts about a soon-to-be launched product; the landing page should let users enter their email address so that they can be the first to know when it is available.
A strong content marketing strategy can also help you generate leads. If you invest the time and energy to create quality content — with real substance (e.g., ebooks, tutorials, webinars, etc. — you can ask people for their contact details in exchange for the information they want to access. This is called “gated content,” and it is one of the most effective tools marketers can use to generate leads.
Key Fact: Compared to traditional outbound marketing, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate.
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2. Brand Awareness
Social media is an ideal way to introduce the public to your institution. Nielsen reports that 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends on social media. Make your posts shareable and engaging to help your fans do word-of-mouth marketing.
Social media can be a powerful tool that any community-focused financial institution can use to create a larger presence — a “force multiplier,” as they call it in the military, that amplifies the impact and effect of your resources. Generating this type of social media buzz and brand awareness is even more important for credit unions, since many consumers don’t know what credit unions are and aren’t aware that they are eligible to join one. Show the tangible benefits people can gain by banking with you, such as saving money, shopping discounts or branch convenience.
If you currently employ a public relations firm for traditional media exposure or an agency for local advertising, think of social media as an extension of this publicity. By sharing articles on your page you can put your institution in front of an entirely different audience. Conversely, if the local media follows your institution’s social pages, strategic posts can help you generate earned media coverage and improve your SEO.
3. Demonstrate Your Brand’s True Character
Social media is the voice of your institution in a way that advertising is not. When consumers are part of the conversation – as is the case on social media – you are not talking at them, you are talking with them. Encourage them to reach their financial goals, make saving a habit, and pay down their debt.
Your brand voice is also on display when responding to positive or negative online comments. Responding to member concerns quickly to acknowledge or aid in resolving an issue shows that you care. Thank your customers for their positive comments.
When it comes to member engagement, Navy Federal Credit Union’s social media team is widely recognized as best in class. A quick look at their Facebook page or Twitter feed shows they respond to nearly every post. They thank members for bringing issues to their attention and direct members to phone or email solutions. Their enthusiastic and supportive tone clearly demonstrates their mission to serve those who serve.
4. Turn Goodwill Into Dollars
Of course you post your community involvement on social media, but how can you use that to make better business decisions and ultimately, profit? One way is to find out which topics cause your fans to respond. It could be the local animal shelter, children’s charities, college sports or something else that is unique to your community. Once you’ve narrowed down the list, consider a fundraiser, partnership or other event to make the most of your followers’ passion for that cause. Your fans almost certainly know others who support the same cause – which means you’ll be introducing new customers to your brand as your goodwill posts are seen by like-minded people.
If you’re considering creating a signature event in your community, you should forecast the reach and return of the event before you commit to a long-term investment. Find out what makes your community tick. Social media can help you decide where and how you’ll get the most bang for your buck — such as your target audience and future growth potential — and even point out unexpected hurdles.
5. Conduct Surveys
Social media allows you to conduct market research much more efficiently and affordably than in-person focus groups. It’s easy to post a link to a survey on social media or create a Twitter poll. You can assess people’s interest in new products, future locations, service delivery options, and much more. To encourage participation, offer an entry into a prize drawing for those who respond. And in those situations when you do need to conduct a live focus group, you can use social media to recruit participants.